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How Atlanta's Restaurant Industry Would Change the World Through Food

How would you change the world through food? Local experts weigh in.

To mark the relaunch of Eater today, the Features team compiled a collection of seventy-two of the best ideas for how people around the world are or how they plan to or how they want to change the world through food. A lot of the ideas are incredibly earnest. Some are ambitious beyond reason. But what they all have in common is a belief that, with hard work and good food, the world is headed in the right direction.

As a local component to this feature, we asked the Atlanta community to chime in. So check out the national responses over here and scroll below to see what local thinkers and doers would like to do to change the world through food. Have a suggestion? Add it to the comments.

The Luminary. [Photo: Matthew Wong]

Eli Kirshtein, executive chef/owner of The Luminary: I would love to help change the world through food by making it more accessible. Both locally and internationally, simple access to food is a huge problem, with millions going hungry every night. I want to continue the work of groups like Share Our Strength, and really push to make food available to everyone, all the time, regardless of their socioeconomic condition.

E.J. Hodgkinson, executive chef/owner of JCT. Kitchen & Bar: Changing the world through food comes with a change in perception. Every day at JCT, we ask ourselves how we can be better stewards of the food our farmers deliver, what more we can do to help them sustain and grow. We have conversations with our guests about our farmers, and use social media to enlighten our guests and friends to the beautiful produce and pasture-raised proteins we receive.

As a chef, I believe it is my responsibility to know and understand my food, and as such, the more awareness I can spread about the amazing food we have right here, then the more the perception of value changes: guests begin to really see what's available locally, and they become interested in taking part in our local food sources, becoming stewards of our local farmers. There is nothing as exciting as seeing our local farmers do well.

Better Half. [Photo: Matthew Wong]

Zach Meloy, executive chef at Better Half: This is something I try to do every day as a cook, but I'd want to encourage people to spend more time together over good food and around the table. I think most of us rush through life far too quickly. Eating can be an opportunity to pause, make memories, build community, and value what's coming out of the ground.

Linton Hopkins, chef and restaurateur: One bite at a time.

Ryan Smith, executive chef at Southbound: Food is the substance of necessity, fulfillment, life; something that unites all of us. As a chef, it's thrilling to me when people embrace food as fun and exciting. I strive to change the world by focusing on our community here in Atlanta and hoping that what we do resonates beyond our city. I want to encourage people to have an open mind about what's on the plate, to refrain from predetermining what they do or don't like. I think by being more adventurous about what we're eating, we can bring a stronger sense of community.

Lusca. [Photo: Matthew Wong]

Jonathan Sellitto, head butcher at Lusca: I think the biggest impact we can have through our food is to reconnect our guests with the individuals and farms that grow and raise it. I hope that my charcuterie can highlight the quality of the animal, and in turn, the skill of the farmer that raised that animal.

Brian Kennington, executive chef at Red Sky Tapas Bar: That is why I choose to open a tapas restaurant. Part of the history of tapas is eating smaller plates of food, having drinks, and socializing. Tapas brings family and friends together. I see it every week at Red Sky Tapas.

Jennifer and Ben Johnson, restaurateurs: Feeding someone is an expression of love. To break bread together is to acknowledge and share in our common humanity despite all superficial differences. Share food and you change the world.

The Pig & The Pearl

The Pig & The Pearl. [Photo: Matthew Wong]

Todd Richards, executive chef/co-owner at The Pig & The Pearl: The way I've changed the world through food is by being a role model for African American chefs and assisting those chefs in developing their talents. If you look at the media, there is a general sense that African American chefs only cook a certain way and in some cases are not chefs. When it comes to finding work, especially when you're looking at chef de cuisine level or higher, it becomes very difficult to get through preconceived notions about management and cooking styles. Eventually, most give up or stay at the status quo. I do believe that trend is changing because of the amount of cooks that contact me every week about jobs, advice or most importantly how to cook a dish correctly."

Zeb Stevenson, executive chef at Parish: How I would change the world with food has, ironically, nothing to do with eating in restaurants. I would instead love to see more families dining together, spending time getting to know each other and using food as the vehicle for bringing people together. Too often we eat just to put fuel into our bodies, and that's a shame because we've lost touch with what it means to dine.

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